By James Woodard
Feb 2, 2017
When Bret Piatt, Jungle Disk CEO, said that we had landed a cybersecurity radio show on 1200 WOAI and that we would be releasing the episodes as podcasts too, I was pretty excited. I’d done audio work in my personal life for over a decade on various musical projects, but have never done anything like a weekly talk show that would broadcast to thousands of people weekly. I am not only a tier 2 tech on the Jungle Disk support team, but also a co-producer of a weekly radio show. In prep for recording the show, we were able to purchase good mid-tier gear on the cheap and do some sound treatment to the walls of our conference room. Before long, we were recording several episodes back to back and have just aired the 19th episode.
The first few episodes were definite learning experiences. Many challenges were had, but the largest hurdle to overcome is noise. We are in downtown San Antonio where the road construction never ends, so I had to teach myself several techniques for noise reduction and gating. It’s really easy to overdo noise reduction, and the result is a digital-sounding mess that is not pleasing to the human ear. Eliminating noise is essentially impossible, but minimizing it and giving the recordings a natural “room sound” is the goal. One major tool in the noise reduction process is Adobe Audition’s Spectral Analyzer. This tool helps visualize the audio spectrum and can help the user to pinpoint and remove steady noises such as cell phone rings, scissor lifts (the current bane of my existence), car horns, etc. And with a simple Photoshop-like paint brush, you can visually “erase” noise from your recordings. Super handy tool!
The editing process was much more natural for me. Being a musician since I was a kid, I’ve recorded countless songs in bedrooms and living rooms, so editing the human voice was not too bad of a challenge at all. Since the show isn’t live, we get the privilege of removing a lot of uhhh’s, ummm’s and awkward pauses. I call this the de-uhh-ing, or eloquence-enhancing process (ha ha ha). You’d be surprised how many small edits can go into a single episode of the show but the end result is worth it.
The best experiences with the show so far have come from the guests themselves and their various fields of expertise including cybersecurity legislation, malware hunting, human hacking, incident management and more. Listening to the conversations between Bret and the guests is always enlightening and fun and the guests bring compelling stories to the table. Some highlights have been Tom DeSot’s stories about USB dead drops and some not-so-sneaky infiltration into some restricted areas during penetration testing for a client, and Congressman Will Hurd’s stories about his time in Afghanistan as a CIA agent.
Check out Cyber Talk Radio at 11pm on Saturday nights on 1200 WOAI or listen to past episodes on YouTube channel.